A blog about life, food and photography.

Photography, rejections, and lack of support

Hawaii 031small

I always try to attach a photograph to every post I write. This is the first one I saw on my desktop so I posted it, to get your attention.

That photograph was from Hawaii. And yes, it’s the same background as my ‘About me’ photograph. What a good eye you have! I’m actually painting this on canvas right now. In my opinion, I paint worse than I take pictures. But painting is very relaxing, and I sing to myself as I do it. And I sing worse than I paint. You can’t imagine how badly…

ANYWAY! This post is a rant. About photography in general. About the argument whether it is a real ‘art’ or just mere documentation of a time/place. Or both. About how people don’t respect your field. About being rejected from one photography agency but accepted by another. About a lack of support from your family and friends for what you do.

Photography is Art

To me, photography is art. I don’t care if you shoot stock photography, or artsy photography. Photographs are a representation of what the artist SEES. Everyone looks through a viewfinder differently. And I am constantly amazed at how people document what they see in the world. And it does take skill and craft to shoot a fine photo. You can’t tell me a blurry image of a person with part of their head cropped out, is the same as this:


How is a photograph good?

Of course, I just showed you photojournalist Steve McCurry’s famous National Geographic photo, which I’m not even that fond of, but you’ve probably seen it around, which is why I chose it. Why is it famous? Why do so many people love this image? Steve McCurry has this gift of seeing a a person’s soul through their eyes. The eyes of each person he shoots has depth, mystery, a story. They’re all saying something.

Lack of respect for the dumb Art Major

When I was in college as an Art major, my friends joked that I had it easy in school, because all I did was ‘doodle pictures in class all day’ or ‘click a button on my camera’ for homework assignments. I didn’t pick a major in Fine Arts because it was easy, or because it was a cop-out. I wasn’t so ‘stupid’ that I could only get accepted to college as an artist, either. I had a really good GPA. I had decent SAT scores. I could’ve majored in Computer Science, the major that EVERY ASIAN LIKE MYSELF TAKES! And I could’ve made a lot more money that way. Part of my brain loves repetitiveness and figuring out solutions to problems, which is great for Comp. Sci. But the majority of my brain loves seeing things differently. Wondering, what if I choose to do it this way, or that way.

Not only do non-art majors mock art majors, but ART MAJORS MOCK OTHER ART MAJORS! Painters would call Graphic Artists sell-outs. Fine Art Photographers call Stock Photographers sell-outs. What you choose to do with your artistic ability is your own damn business. We’re all the same! Stop hating.

Just the other day, I heard of a racist comment about Cantonese people, from someone Mandarin. I know this is sort of a different subject, but in a way it isn’t. Cantonese, Mandarin, we’re all friggin Chinese! I’ve only heard about this kind of racism in the past few years. It’s so unbelievably stupid that people of the same race have racist feelings towards each other. The same goes for artists of different art fields.

Microstock Agencies

Another subject I’d like to talk about is Stock Photography agencies. To all the people submitting their photographs to these agencies – just because the photos are rejected DOES NOT MAKE THEM BAD. A stock photograph is a very…graphic way of depicting things. They want plain vanilla shots. No artsy, creative phtographs need apply.  You might be convinced that your photograph is fantastic, but it might get rejected time and time again, for completely different reasons at different agencies.  It might be a computer algorithm determining what gets rejected, or it could be a person, and all are completely subjective.

I’ve had food photographs rejected from Foodgawker.com, that were accepted at microstock agencies. Go figure! Maybe the Reviewer got up from the wrong side of the bed.  Maybe the computer algorithm didn’t have its morning cup of coffee.

I’ve gotten rejected numerous times at different Microstock agencies, before one finally accepted me. You can joke that the one who accepted me probably had lower standards, or it was a fluke, or that someone had pity on me. But I KNEW that my photos were good enough. Someone had to appreciate them one day. The first time I got rejected, I cried. The second time, I cried even harder. The third time, I laughed it off. The forth time, I got accepted, then cried again, out of happiness.

3 rules about Stock Agencies:

  • A photograph rejected from one agency can get accepted at another. As I said, it’s all subjective to some degree. Don’t give up.
  • Just because a photo gets rejected does not mean it is bad. It could be deemed too artistic according to the specific reviewer’s tastes. You are probably still awesome.
  • I forgot my 3rd rule. But you are still awesome!!!

Are your family/friends supportive of your work/hobbies?

I don’t get a lot of support for what I do. Sure, I get lots of support for doing this blog, which is surprising. But when I wanted to shoot photography for a living…*sound of crickets*. The photography field isn’t repsected as much as a ‘real’ field. Or at least, that’s how most people think. At least the ones I know. I wake up every morning forcing myself to think positive. I have to be my own support group. It is really, really difficult. You start doubting yourself, thinking maybe the reason people aren’t supportive is because you really suck. But I don’t think so anymore. I think it’s because people don’t think it’s a real job.

So believe in yourself. In the end, it’s all up to you anyway.

Leave some of your rants on this post. Or e-mail me your rants. I’ll support you!! 

…I will post something food related later today, I promise. For all the foodies.

13 thoughts on “Photography, rejections, and lack of support”

  • I’m here for you girl! GO CANDY! I think your work is amazing and I totally understand the frustrations of rejections. It’s great that you had the confidence in your work to continue trying for acceptance – I really just fell apart after my first creative rejection and never really recovered. It’s even harder to get acceptance for your creativity when even you doubt yourself!

    My pet peeve is the misconception that if a creative endevour doesn’t make “money” in the sense that you could support yourself off of it, it’s not worth your time or money spent on it. Or that you have to be a millionaire or some famous artist/celebrity to be recognized.

    I should let you read “The Artist’s Way” if you haven’t read it already. It’s an awesome book about being an artist and dealing with a lot of the hassles that come along with that label.

  • Hey Irish Pirate – I was pretty sure you’d totally understand what I’m going through. When I started this blog, alot of people didn’t understand what the point was. They kept asking if it was worthy of my efforts and how much money I was making. If I went through life that way, I’d be miserable.

    To most people, EVERYTHING IS ABOUT MONEY. And that you are stupid if you don’t agree.

    I’ve also been told that if I didn’t have a full time job, people would look down on me. Like if I didn’t sit at a cubicle all day long and work for someone else, I was a useless bag of skin. Maybe people just want to drag you down with them.

    I haven’t read the book you mentioned, bring it in a few weeks when we meet up!

    To all the dreamers out there, GO DREAMERS! 🙂

  • I don’t have the photog skills like you do, but I do hate the feeling of rejection. I started up my food blog end of May and began discovering food photo web sites. I think they’re wonderful food ogling sites, but I hated the rejection of this one Web site. They had the audacity to explain what was wrong with your photo. That’s obnoxious. I’d rather you just not give me a two-word reason for rejection and be vague at the same time. Anyway, at least I have plenty of time to improve my food photo-taking.

    And, also: Go dream!

  • Hummingbird – You should check out tastestopping.wordpress.com, they take all our rejected food photos 🙂 I get a 40% approval rate at foodgawker.com, so don’t be discouraged! I can’t make EVERY single photo I take perfect, because I’m cooking, and I’m in a rush. So some come out less than perfect.

    Plus, some of their reasons for rejection don’t make any sense. The sites usually take a 250 x 250 pixel image (a square), while we make compositions with a rectangle. So the whole ratio is off, and when they tell you your photo lacks good composition, it’s BS!

  • totally agree with you candy. donno much about photography but i also du hate rejection. but you know something you are the most talented and creative food photographer and food blogger ive ever met and all ye works are just beyond impressive. keep it up candy!

  • Thanks Nora. If it weren’t for all the positive comments from bloggers, I don’t know if I would be trying so hard. It’s nice to create this little niche for our little support groups, to help motivate us and push us toward the right direction 🙂

  • Great to hear encouragement like this from fellow foodie bloggers. Tough to find support sometimes. Even from other foodie bloggers who you know been checking out on your blog but never leave any positive comment about yr photographs.

    Hey, I like the simplicity of photos in Microstock Agencies, I buy photos from them from time to time for my collateral projects. Don’t really need that fancy artsy photography of tomatoes, just show me the tomatoes and I’ll do the rest to the image.

    Agreed on how some photographer wannabes think about stock photography. They try so hard to take “artistic” photos that end up looking like they’re trying “too” hard.

    Relax and let it flow, stop being someone else and develop your own style. That’s my two cents 😀

    PS: love your blog!

  • Your photos are stunning! I’ve given up on trying to submit my photos to those big photos website. All my photos have been rejected by FoodGawker many times 🙁 It’s hard starting out with a new blog and not even knowing how to use a camera right. Your post has given me the encouragement I needed. Many thanks 🙂

  • Linda – I’ve been rejected on FoodGawker more times than accepted. It’s frustrating to most people because when you reduce the size of the photo, it tends to be blurry. But don’t let that stop you from shooting and blogging! Look forward to checking out your site!

  • I just stumbled upon this blog and i really couldn’t stop myself from reading the whole content..First up very nice blog. I really like ur honesty about the feeling of being rejected, which most of the photgraphers have come across once in a while. Some more than the others 🙂

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